Coronavirus has taken the world by storm. The deadly virus that originated in China has now spread with more than 160 million confirmed cases all across the globe. In India only, over 25 million 2019-nCoV positive cases of this fatal virus have been identified including 2 lakh 74 thousand deaths and 20.1 million recoveries. The recovery rate seems to get better but the confirmed cases are also increasing alongside. World Health Organization(WHO) has declared this as a global pandemic as it has affected nearly 213 countries. The numbers are increasing day-by-day which is extremely alarming. 2021 is seeing the second wave of coronavirus which is deadlier than before. Over two lakh cases are being identified daily which is alarming. Despite vaccination, the situation seems to be not getting under control. According to WHO, the epicentre of coronavirus is a seafood market in Wuhan, Hubei Province, China. This virus is not only affecting humans but also animals like bats, cats and camels.

What is coronavirus? Most of us know by now that this is a dangerous virus that attacking people by weakening immunity and increasing health complications. The coronavirus outbreak happened in 2019 end but it grappled the world in 2020. Apart from the underdeveloped and developing countries, even the developed countries with strong healthcare infrastructure like the USA, Russia and United Kingdom failed to save their citizens from the wrath of the COVID-19 virus. Many countries have got their nationals vaccinated and it has reduced the number of cases and severity of the virus.

This was initially thought to be an autoimmune disease that attacks people with weaker immunity. However, with time, it was found out that this virus is airborne and can enter the body of a person through nasal and oral passages. Touching something or someone who has the virus and then touching your mouth with that infected hand can allow the virus to go inside your body. Similarly, the aerosols of coronavirus spread in the air if an infected person sneezed or coughed in an indoor space can also infect you upon inhalation. Besides, it is also found that the virus can enter the body through the eyes.

Talking about the spread of coronavirus, last year, its first wave came where we saw a sudden spike in the cases. At that time, even the medical fraternity had little information about this virus let alone how to identify and treat it. After WHO declared this outbreak a pandemic, lockdown was imposed in the most affected countries including India. For a couple of months, lockdown was continued to break the chain of the virus and prevent its transmission. Cases declined as the year ended.

The second wave of coronavirus emerged in the first quarter of 2021 when the virus mutated and became more contagious. Despite covid vaccination rollout, thousands of fresh cases were reported and many states went into lockdown mode to put brake on the transmission. To some extent, it helped but hundreds of people died daily due to a shortage of oxygen and ventilators. In the second wave, the oxygen crisis was the highlight that worsened the situation.

Now, the third wave is expected to come which is going to be worst than the previous ones. As per experts, children would be most affected by the third wave. Keeping this threat in mind, experts are suggesting everyone to get vaccinated to immunise themselves against the virus.

Initially the prominent symptoms of coronavirus were fever, cold, cough, body ache, loss of taste and smell but now, symptoms have also changed. Dr. Seema Dhir, Senior Consultant, Internal Medicine, Artemis Hospitals told us about the old and new symptoms of covid-19.

Old symptoms

  • Weakness
  • High Fever above 100 F
  • Dry cough
  • Sore throat
  • Incessant coughing
  • Fatigue
  • Nausea
  • Watery eyes
  • Runny nose
  • Headache
  • Body aches
  • Loss of smell and taste
  • Chills, sometimes with shaking
  • Pink eyes or Conjunctivitis

New symptoms

  • Chest pain
  • Rashes on the skin
  • Discoloration of fingers and toes
  • Diarrhea
  • Breathlessness

Long COVID Symptoms

Post-COVID Syndrome is a condition where a person who has recovered from coronavirus infection experiences symptoms for weeks and maybe months. Most of the long haul symptoms of covid-19 are mild and only a few people experience them. Similarly, many people test negative but they show prominent symptoms of covid that create confusion. Here are some long covid symptoms:

  • Respiratory symptoms- Breathlessness, dry cough
  • Cardiovascular symptoms- Chest pain, palpitations
  • Neurological symptoms- Headache, dizziness, sleep deprivation, brain fog
  • Musculoskeletal symptoms- Joint pain, muscle pain
  • Gastrointestinal symptoms- Diarrhoea, Abdominal pain, Nausea, Loss of appetite
  • Psychological symptoms- Depression, Anxiety
  • ENT-related symptoms- Sore throat, Dizziness, Earache, Tinnitus, Loss of smell and taste
  • Dermatological symptoms- Skin rashes

Do you know that there are multiple mutations of coronavirus? The SARS-CoV-2 virus was initially a single-strain virus that has now mutated twice. In India, triple mutations of coronavirus have been identified. For the uninitiated, the mutation is when multiple strains of a virus occur making the virus more contagious. The secondary strains or mutations are dangerous than the primary ones. Also, the symptoms and effect on the body also differ. These strains transmit faster and probably this is why the second wave is deadlier than the first one because currently, we have three mutations of the coronavirus. Dr. Rajesh Tripathi, (M.D. Medicines) at Suguna Hospital, Bengaluru explains, "For now the new constraint has been divided into three sub categories that are B.1.617.1, B.1.617.2 and B.1.617.3. These three sub categories basically stand for the different strains present in the triple mutant coronavirus.”

There is no treatment of coronavirus as such but yes, we do have vaccines that are proven effective in preventing the transmission of this virus. The vaccines work by producing covid-19 antibodies inside the body so that if the virus enters a person who has antibodies, it won’t survive for longer and may die sooner. Besides, vaccination would also cut down the virus transmission rate thereby causing a decline in coronavirus spread.

Vaccines available in India

Currently, there are three vaccines in India that are being used in covid vaccination rollout. Let us tell you a brief about them:

Covaxin- This vaccine is manufactured by Indian company Bharat Biotech. The ingredients list of Covaxin contains- whole-virion inactivated SARS-CoV-2 antigen, Aluminum hydroxide gel, Imidazoquinolinone, 2-phenoxyethanol and Phosphate buffer saline. Its two doses are administered in 4 weeks gap for full protection.

Covishield- This AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine is manufactured in India by the Serum Institute of India (SII). Two doses of Covishield are necessary to protect against coronavirus and are given at 4-8 weeks intervals. The main ingredients of covishield are- L-Histidine hydrochloride monohydrate, L-Histidine, Magnesium chloride hexahydrate, Ethanol, Polysorbate 80, Disodium edetate dihydrate (EDTA), Sodium chloride, Sucrose and Water.

Sputnik V- This Russian vaccine is the third approved vaccine in India. The Sputnik V (Gam-COVID-Vac) is said to be more effective than the rest. Its two doses are given at 21 days intervals to provide maximum protection. The manufacturing company claims that Sputnik V has a 95% efficacy rate.

Talking about which vaccine is better, Dr. MS Kanwar, Sr. Consultant Respiratory Medicine, Critical Care & Sleep Disorders, Apollo Hospital, New Delhi says that each vaccine is effective as long as most people get vaccinated.

Here are some precautionary steps that need to be taken to safeguard yourself from this deathly virus attack.

  • Keep your hands clean and sanitized. Wash them before and after cooking; after using the toilet; after coming in contact with and animal.
  • Wear double masks(one surgical and one cloth mask) when going out for double protection.
  • Do not step out of the house unless urgent.
  • Cover your mouth with a tissue paper or clean handkerchief during coughing and sneezing.
  • Avoid coming in close contact with a person who has flu and cold-like symptoms.
  • Maintain physical distance between each other.
  • Prevent the consumption of meat. Strictly stop the consumption of seafood as this epidemic is said to have spread through seafood.
  • If someone in the family is showing symptoms, isolate them and stay distant from others too.
  • When you see similar signs and symptoms, consult a doctor immediately.